Netflix Sci-Fi Tentpole Bombs With Critics And Audiences, Reported $100 Million Budget Looks Wasted On Screen

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

Atlas Netflix rotten Tomatoes

There’s a trend with Netflix movies lately where there seems to be a direct correlation between how much money the streaming platform spends on green screen effects and how bad the movie is. Jennifer Lopez’s latest movie, Atlas, is a perfect example of this, as Netflix spent huge amounts of money on this feature, and it ended up getting tanked by reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Another Netflix Sci-Fi Waste

Atlas, Netflix’s latest sci-fi action flick, debuted to less-than-stellar reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, earning a measly 17 percent approval score.

Critics have panned the film as yet another in a series of disappointing, big-budget productions from the streaming giant, drawing parallels to previous Netflix efforts such as Rebel Moon, The Adam Project, and Army of the Dead.

In Atlas, Lopez portrays Atlas Shepherd, a data analyst stranded on an alien planet amidst a war with malevolent AI robots. The film, directed by Brad Peyton and penned by Leo Sardarian and Aron Eli Coleite, has been criticized for its lackluster script, heavy reliance on CGI, and clichéd storytelling.

With a rumored budget of $100 million, Atlas stands among Netflix’s most expensive original movies, alongside others that have similarly failed to impress critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Plot

Atlas suffers from the same issues that have plagued many of Netflix’s high-cost sci-fi ventures, according to each film’s Rotten Tomatoes reviews: confusing plots, overuse of green screen effects, and an overall sense of bloat.

The film features Lopez, who previously led Netflix’s hit The Mother, in a mechanical pod, engaging in serious yet ultimately unintentionally ridiculous interactions with a Siri-like AI, voiced by Gregory James Cohan, while combating an evil AI played by Simu Liu.

Netflix’s history with such films has led to frequent criticisms. Atlas joins movies like Bright, Project Power, and Rebel Moon in the Netflix streaming catalog as films that have not only been expensive but also critically panned, with Rotten Tomatoes scores often below 70 percent. This has sparked a conversation about the sustainability and value of these big-budget productions.

Fewer And Better

Atlas Netflix rotten Tomatoes

However, change may be on the horizon. Dan Lin, Netflix’s new head of film, who succeeded Scott Stuber in April, has signaled a shift in strategy.

Lin claims the goal is to stop producing movies like Atlas and steer Netflix towards producing “fewer and better” original films, focusing on mid-sized offerings rather than costly, CGI-heavy spectacles, and then, hopefully, gain better reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and similar sites.

Insiders suggest this could mean a greater emphasis on comedies, rom-coms, family films, and award-season contenders, with fewer large-scale sci-fi and action projects.

Netflix Needs To Shrink Productions

Lin’s frugality, honed during his tenure at his own company, Rideback, suggests that Netflix might soon favor efficiency and quality over sheer spectacle. This pivot could mark the end of an era for the streamer’s bloated sci-fi epics like Atlas, and leave room for Netflix to secure higher scores from aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes.

The success of more modestly budgeted films like Leave the World Behind, which outperformed Rebel Moon Part One in viewership, supports this potential shift.

The Jury’s Still Out

Atlas Netflix rotten Tomatoes

It remains to be seen if Atlas will find success with Netflix audiences despite Rotten Tomatoes’ critical reception. The film’s performance could influence Netflix’s future production decisions.

As Lin’s strategy takes hold, there’s hope that the era of Netflix’s big-budget, mediocre sci-fi adventures may be drawing to a close, making way for a new phase of more thoughtfully crafted content.